Articles | Volume 22, issue 9
Research article
10 Sep 2018
Research article |  | 10 Sep 2018

Including effects of watershed heterogeneity in the curve number method using variable initial abstraction

Vijay P. Santikari and Lawrence C. Murdoch

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Subject: Catchment hydrology | Techniques and Approaches: Theory development
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Cited articles

Baltas, E. A., Dervos, N. A., and Mimikou, M. A.: Technical note: Determination of the SCS initial abstraction ratio in an experimental watershed in Greece, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 11, 1825–1829,, 2007.
Bingner, R. L., Theurer, F. D., and Yuan, Y.: AnnAGNPS technical processes documentation 5.2, 2011.
D'Asaro, F. and Grillone, G.: Empirical investigation of Curve Number Method parameters in the Mediterranean area, J. Hydrol. Eng., 17, 1141–1152,, 2012.
D'Asaro, F. and Grillone, G.: Discussion: “Curve Number derivation for watersheds draining two headwater streams in lower coastal plain South Carolina, USA” by Epps T. H., Hitchcock D. R., Jayakaran A. D., Loflin D. R., Williams T. H., and Amatya D. M., J. Am. Water Resour. Assoc., 51, 573–578,, 2015.
Gassman, P. W., Reyes, M. R., Green, C. H., and Arnold, J. G.: The Soil and Water Assessment Tool – Historical development applications, and future research directions, T. ASABE, 50, 1211–1240, 2007.
Short summary
The curve number (CN) method is the most widely used approach for estimating runoff from rainfall. Despite its popularity, there is a conceptual flaw where CN varies with rainfall although it is assumed to be constant. In this paper, we describe theoretical analyses that show how this behavior is due to watershed heterogeneity, and we then provide simple modifications to the method to improve its runoff predictions. The findings will benefit hydrologists and watershed models that use CN method.